These are recollections of my life when I was a beast and ate grass, which I, Nebuchadnezzar, make known to all people and to every tongue.
Was not Babel the great city, the greatest of all the cities of the world? I, Nebuchadnezzar, built it. No city was so renowned as Babel, and no king so renowned through Babel, the glory of my majesty. My royal house was visible unto the ends of the earth, and my wisdom was like a dark riddle which no one could explain. So no one could interpret my dreams.
And the word came to me that for seven years I should be transformed and become like a beast that eats the grass of the field. And I heard a voice that came suddenly, and I was transformed as quickly as a woman changes color. Grass was my food, and dew fell upon me, and no one knew who I was. But I knew Babel and cried out, “Is not this Babel?” But no one paid attention to my word, for when I spoke I sounded like a bellowing beast. My thoughts terrified me, for my mouth was bound, and no one could grasp a thing I said. And I thought to myself: Who is this Mighty One whose wisdom is like the darkness of the night, and like the deep sea unfathomable? No one knows where the Almighty resides, no one can point and say, “Behold, here is his throne.” For he does not dwell on the confines of my kingdom as does my neighbor. And neither does he dwell in his temple, for I, I, Nebuchadnezzar, have taken his vessels of gold and silver, and have leveled his temple to ruins.
No one knows anything of him. Who is his father, and how did he came to acquire his power, and who taught him the secret of his might? He has no advisers from whom one might buy his secret for gold; no one to whom he says, “What shall I do?” and no one who says to him,”What are you doing?” He does not have spies who wait for the opportunity when one might catch him; for he does not say, “Tomorrow,” he says, “today.” He makes no preparations like a man, and his preparations give the enemy no rest, for he says, “let it be done,” and it comes to pass.
It is he who has done this to me. He does not aim like the bowman, so that one can flee from his arrow; no, he speaks and it is done. In his hand, the brain of kings is like wax in the smelting oven, and their power is like a feather when he weighs it. And yet he does not dwell on earth that he might take Babel from me and leave me a small residue, or that he might take away everything from me in order to be the Mighty One In Babel.
This is how I thought in the secrecy of my mind, when no one recognized me and when my thoughts terrified me. This is how I thought of the Lord. But the seven years passed by and I became once again Nebuchadnezzar, and I called together all the wise men to see if they could explain to me the secret of that power, and how it was I had become a beast of the field. And they all fell down upon their faces and said, “Great Nebuchadnezzar, this is but a vision, an evil dream! Who could be capable of doing this to you?” But my wrath was kindled against them, and I had them put away for their folly. For the Lord possesses all might, as no human being possesses it, and I will not envy his power, but will laud it.
Babel has ceased to be the renowned Babel, and I, Nebuchadnezzar, am no longer Nebuchadnezzar, and my armies no longer protect me, for no one can see the Lord and no one can recognize him. Even if he were to come, the watchmen would give warning in vain, because I have already become like a bird in the tree, or like a fish in the water, known only to the other fish.
I no longer desire to be renowned through Babel, but every seventh year there shall be a festival in the land, a great festival among the peope, and it shall be called the Feast of the Transformation. And an astrologer shall be led through the streets and be dressed like a beast, and he shall carry with him his calculations, torn to shreds like a bunch of hay. And all the people shall cry, “The Lord, the Lord, is the Mighty One. His deed is swift like the leap of the great fish in the sea.”
My days have been numbered, and my dominion has gone like a watch in the night. I do not know where to go-whether it is to the invisible land in the distance where the Mighty One lives, that I might find grace in his eyes, or whether he will take the breath of life from me, so that I become like a cast-off garment like my predecessors, that he might find delight in me.
I, I, Nebuchadnezzar, have made this known to all people and to every tongue, and great Babel shall carry out my will. by…Soren Kierkegaard